The Unheard Stories of Sophocles’s Jocasta and Manto’s Women: Addressing Social Taboos through Experimental Adaptations in Bangladeshi Theater
Nadia Rahman and Tahmina Zaman
Abstract: In the post-liberation period of Bangladesh, women-centered plays in theater were few. The silence of women’s voices led major theater groups to create, translate, or adapt women-centered plays in the post-liberation era, especially in the ’80s. The adaptations of the ’90s became more vocal as they aimed to reach out and bring more opulent foreign texts to the local audience, not blindly following them but serving to increase the self-confidence of the theater in representing women. One of the major theater groups of Bangladesh, Nagorik Nattya Sampraday, began dedicating their productions to the cause by putting women at the center. In the two recent productions of this theater group, Andhakare Methane and Naamgottroheen – Manto’r Meyera, inspired by Oedipus Rex and three short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, taboo topics like incest and prostitution are addressed. This paper will focus on how these taboos are handled in the two adapted plays. It will also examine how, during the crises, the female characters respond and emerge as strong individuals actively resisting the patriarchal ideologies. To understand the taboo relations in terms of feminism and its relevance in our society, we have taken into consideration Friedman’s ideas on locational feminism, Edward Said’s Travel Theory, and Alcoff’s criticism of feminist theory.
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Published in 2015